Chargers at Chiefs: Time, streaming, how to watch, key matchups, pick for Week 2 of ‘Thursday Night Football’

On this week’s version of “Thursday Night Football,” we have got a blockbuster matchup of two of the most effective groups within the league — every from what’s broadly anticipated to be the NFL’s finest division. Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers started their season with victories over high quality opponents, and now they get to sq. off in what ought to show to be one of the extra consequential video games of the early half of this yr.

The winner of this sport will stake itself to an early lead within the AFC West, and thus the race for one of the highest seeds within the convention. These two groups performed a pair of thrillers a yr in the past, with the Chargers prevailing within the early-season matchup thanks to aggressive decision-making and massive performs, and the Chiefs popping out on prime in an extra time contest late within the yr.

Which squad will get itself off to an early division lead? We’ll discover out quickly sufficient. Before we break down the matchup, this is how you may watch the sport.

How to watch

Date: Thursday, Sept. 15 | Time: 8:15 pm ET
Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
Streaming:
Amazon Prime Video
TV: Check native market listings
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Chiefs -4, O/U 54

When the Chargers have the ball

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The Chargers shall be with out Keenan Allen for this contest, simply as they had been for a lot of their Week 1 victory over the Raiders. The Chiefs, in the meantime, is not going to have rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie — who acquitted himself fairly effectively in opposition to the Cardinals earlier than leaving with an harm of his personal.

McDuffie’s absence will go away Kansas City’s major corners at a size-and-physicality drawback in opposition to Justin Herbert’s prime remaining goal, Mike Williams, who goes 6-foot-4 and 218 kilos in contrast with Rashad Fenton’s 5-11, 188 and L’Jarius Sneed’s 6-0, 189. Williams was not focused closely by Herbert within the Week 1 matchup, with the Los Angeles signal-caller as a substitute spreading the ball round to all of his playmakers: Williams, Allen, Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter, Gerald Everett, Tre’ McKitty, and Austin Ekeler all tied for the workforce lead with 4 targets apiece.

Herbert’s capacity to fireplace absolute laser beams all around the discipline makes this sort of distribution doable. He (just like the quarterback on the opposite facet of this matchup) is the sort of uncommon expertise who could make targets of disparate talent ranges into equally harmful threats, just because he’s in a position to join on throws that should not actually be doable.

Still, the scale benefit Williams and, to a lesser extent, Palmer, Everett, and McKitty have over the Chiefs defensive backs ought to present alternatives for Herbert to match the ball into tight home windows — as a result of he can (and would possibly want to) belief them to come away with contested catches. Kansas City’s protection in Week 1 in opposition to Arizona was fairly good, with prime Cardinals wideout Marquise Brown averaging solely 2.2 yards of separation per goal, in accordance to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats — Thirteenth-lowest out of 74 receivers and tight ends who had been focused 5 or extra occasions. Brown had averaged 3.3 and three.5 yards of separation over the earlier two seasons, indicating that this was doubtless extra about sticky protection (and probably Arizona’s offensive design) than an lack of ability to separate.

The Los Angeles offensive line held up effectively in opposition to an excellent Raiders go rush in Week 1. Herbert was below an honest quantity of stress, however had to scramble solely as soon as, didn’t take a sack and was knocked down simply twice on 35 dropbacks . Kansas City’s go rush isn’t practically as fearsome as that of Las Vegas, so there shouldn’t be as many worries about Herbert having time to throw on this matchup. It’s going to extra about whether or not Steve Spagnuolo and firm can determine a means to generate stress with out having to quit too many our bodies from the again finish and thus making throwing lanes wider than they need them to be. Chris Jones is the most effective go rusher the Chiefs have, however the Chargers are literally fairly sturdy up the center with the mix of Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, and rookie Zion Johnson solidifying issues in entrance of Herbert.

Austin Ekeler performed solely 49% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps in Week 1, however he was additionally the one Chargers again who was all that efficient, together with his 13 carries and 4 receptions gaining 72 yards in contrast with simply 47 yards on 13 whole touches for Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel. Perhaps rookie again Isaiah Spiller is usually a higher praise to Ekeler when he will get on the sphere, however at the second, LA would possibly need to get him again into the 60-70% of snaps vary — particularly in a matchup like this the place they may want to rating on each drive to preserve tempo with one other of the league’s most explosive offenses.

When the Chiefs have the ball

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After being blitzed at by far the bottom fee within the NFL final season (11.3% vs. a league common of 25.3%, with the next-closest certified passer coming in at 20.3%), Patrick Mahomes confronted 5 or extra rushers extra usually than some other passer in Week 1. The Cardinals despatched additional our bodies on 22 of his 41 dropbacks — a fee of 53.7%. The league common in season openers was simply 23.7%, and Jalen Hurts (40.9%) and Trevor Lawrence (40%) had been the one different QBs blitzed at least 40% of the time. The technique was… not profitable, as Mahomes accomplished 15 of 21 makes an attempt for 137 yards and 4 touchdowns with zero sacks, regardless of being pressured on 11 of Arizona’s 22 blitzes.

In the primary yr of the Brandon Staley period, the Chargers blitzed at an virtually precisely league common fee. They hovered round that vary of their two video games in opposition to the Chiefs as effectively, sending stress on 22% and 24% of Mahomes’ dropbacks. (Mahomes went 15 of 21 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and one sack on these performs.) They backed off the blitz fee fairly a bit in Week 1 in opposition to the Raiders, sending 5 or extra go rushers on simply 16.3% of passing snaps.

It’s maybe value noting that regardless of coming away with six sacks, the Chargers generated stress at a below-average fee in Week 1, getting a sack, hit, or hurry on 28% of Derek Carr’s dropbacks in contrast with a league common of 33% in season openers. That’s regardless of boasting an elite edge rush duo of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, who accounted for 9 of the workforce’s 16 whole pressures and 4.5 of the six takedowns. Being in a position to get to the quarterback with out sending further rushers is extra essential in opposition to Mahomes than maybe any quarterback within the league, as a result of he beats the blitz with completely lethal precision.

It’s not as if sitting again in protection is a greater proposition, although. Mahomes recorded the league’s highest EPA per dropback in opposition to non-blitzes in Week 1, finishing 15 of 18 passes for 223 yards and a landing with out taking a single sack. He did not drive something at all, proving himself content material to work his checkdowns and take quick passes over the center to the likes of Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mecole Hardman. Smith-Schuster, specifically, was introduced in particularly to assault these varieties of conditions, and Mahomes discovered him in smooth spots repeatedly all through the primary half.

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With JC Jackson doubtless nonetheless out for the Chargers, it will be fascinating to see how Staley makes use of Derwin James as a chess piece on this matchup. He’s so versatile that he can do just about something. Will he man up on Kelce most of the time? Will he play within the slot to strive to take away some of the Smith-Schuster stuff over the center? If he is on Kelce, can the Chargers rely on the likes of Asante Samuel Jr. — who is superb however on the smaller facet in contrast to Kansas City’s new-look broad receiver room that has lots of dimension — and Michael Davis to match up? How a lot shell protection with the safeties merely sitting excessive and forcing Mahomes to work his checkdowns all the way in which down the sphere does Los Angeles need to make use of — and can that work in opposition to an offense now designed to function that means proper up till the purpose that you just drop a security down so it could hit you excessive?

The Chiefs ran the ball pretty efficiently in Week 1 in opposition to Arizona, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire wanting higher than he did at any level in his first two NFL seasons. (Both CEH and Jerick McKinnon have been in a position to discover success behind this excellent line.) The Raiders additionally ran the ball with a level of success in opposition to LA as effectively, with 46.2% of their dashing makes an attempt gaining 5 or extra yards. The Chargers’ whole lack of ability to cease the run got here again to chew them very often final yr, to the purpose that they devoted a bunch of free-agent cash this offseason to shoring up the issue. The Kansas City offensive line ought to nonetheless have an honest benefit within the run sport right here, and using it a bit extra usually than anticipated might be a means to preserve the Chargers go rush off-balance.

Prediction: Chiefs 33, Chargers 30

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